Reviewer Karim Khan (also known as Ernest Dempsey) is a geology graduate and an MA in English Literature. He has authored four books: Islands of Illusion, The Biting Age, Two Candles, and The Blue Fairy and Other Stories. Dempsey is a founding member of the World Audience Inc. and the editor in chief of the quarterly review journal The Audience Review. He is completing is first novel. He also writes essays, freelance articles, blogs, and conducts author interviews. Click Here to read Karim's archived reviews.
Author: Daniel J. Tomasulo
Publisher: Graywolf Press
In his childhood, Daniel Tomasulo had a recurring dream in which he kept struggling to complete a large jigsaw puzzle lying over a source of light, but the moment he fitted the final piece in place to complete the puzzle, the light source lying beneath the puzzle was entirely covered and darkness resulted, making Daniel so uncomfortable that he’d remove the piece again to let the light out. The trade-off between a solved puzzle and light remained for decades in Daniel’s real life as he grew up to be a professional psychologist who helped children, including the one living inside him, to stay connected to the light in their lives. His memoir Confessions of a Former Child lights select scenes of growth from his past.
Childhood and family relationships take center stage in Daniel’s memoir. Far from being a gloom-and-doom journey, his childhood underscores the uniqueness of child-like curiosity which made him stop foods with seeds after he was told that conception starts with a seed. This innocence seems never to have left his life as the adventures from his childhood are paralleled in his later life where he responds in unusual ways to challenging life situations – the upcoming birth of his first child, for example – and works with unusual patients with psychological problems. Both happy and gloomy sides of life are instantiated in the author’s memories of his family and profession, making his book and enthralling experience.
It takes more than wisdom alone to make a memoir a complete life story that vibrates to an average reader; it takes skill and creative thought. Daniel Tomasulo exhibits both the latter in his book whose chapters connect memorable parts of his childhood and later years meaningfully, just like the letters in the word ‘Life’. What passed in his past returned in his future, albeit in a different form and with different characters; and that he grew in understanding through learning is put cogently in each chapter. His memoir is thus not only his story but a complete story of human life in our times.
As a writer, Daniel stands out from the crowd. His narrative skills are incredibly engaging and his passages truly memorable. His words speak to the instincts and emotions of the reader. He also employs humor, especially the hyperbole, to freshen up the reader, never letting them wanting to put the book down. One of his most impressive skills shows in his dialogues, especially when he practices role-taking – something that, perhaps, comes natural to him as a psychodrama trainer.
Confessions of a Former Child also has some important information on healing, particularly on relief from anxiety and depression through group therapy and energy healing through Reiki. It is a complete book that ends with the author’s arrival at the solution of his childhood’s puzzling dream. He leaves the puzzle and chooses over it the light that is hiding underneath – an ending that is a potential beginning of eternal light in the lives of his readers.